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NHRPC

Everglades Digital Library

America's Swamp: the Historical Everglades Project

The Papers of Thomas E. Will provide two interesting perspectives regarding the Everglades. The first perspective is at the national level as Will passionately advocated drainage and land development while living in Washington, D.C. His enthusiasm for the project developed by Governors Broward and Jennings is well documented in his correspondence, speeches and writings. The second perspective is at a local level. Between 1912 and 1914, Will purchased land near Lake Okeechobee and began to develop the region's first planned town, Okeelanta. He exemplifies those thousands of people who bought into the dream of reclaimed land in South Florida, and who moved to the region only to find that the drainage program was insufficient. The collection is the perfect complement to the papers of the two Governors because it documents the early failures of the reclamation project, both in terms of unrealized development and destruction of ecological systems.